RAPID CITY, S.D. – The Missouri Mavericks haven’t played a game since April 2 and had the luxury of taking four days off from even practicing.
The Komets played four brutally physical games in that span against the Rapid City Rush, whom they eliminated from the Turner Conference semifinals with a 4-3 overtime victory Tuesday.
The Komets won the series 4-2.
The Komets are not worried because the Mavericks were able to rest entering the conference finals series, which starts Friday at Memorial Coliseum.
I think our team is pretty high right now, pretty pumped, said Komets coach Al Sims, whose team spent Wednesday making the 1,100-mile trek back from Rapid City. We’ve got a lot of adrenaline flowing, and we’ll get them refocused.
The Komets were 1-0-1 against the Mavericks this season.
Fort Wayne went 40-19-7 to clinch the conference’s top seed, while the Mavericks finished third at 39-21-6 before sweeping Evansville.
During the season, Fort Wayne traded defenseman Tristin Llewellyn to the Mavericks for goalie Gerry Festa.
Festa is 6-4-0 with the Komets but hasn’t played in the postseason. Llewellyn, who had one assist in 11 games with Fort Wayne, has three goals and 14 points since, including one goal and four points in the playoffs.
I think (their time off) is definitely not an advantage, said Mike Vaskivuo, who leads the Komets in playoff scoring with three goals and eight points. We’ve been playing hockey for the last two weeks, and we’re in our groove. It could bite those guys in the butt, you know, too much rest. But I guess we’ll see.
Komets captain Colin Chaulk said both teams will be able to spin the disparity in time off.
I’m always the one who’s going to be positive. I’m going to take the line and say, We’re ready. We’re game ready. We’re battle ready. We’re up to speed,’ Chaulk said. But if I’m Missouri, I’m saying, We’re fresh and we’ve had time to recover from our bumps and bruises. We’ve been scrimmaging and doing battle drills and all that stuff.’
But it’s like I’ve always said, it’s who’s willing to go to the tough areas, and who’s willing to go in and get their head beat in and come out with the puck.
If you’re willing to do it more than the next guy, you’re going to get the bounces.
The Komets may still be without center Brett Smith, who missed half of Game 5 and all of Game 6 with a neck injury he suffered on a hit from behind by Jeff Kyrzakos in the playoff opener.
Chaulk led Fort Wayne with three goals and four points against the Mavericks in the regular season. Missouri had four players with two points, including Sebastien Thinel, who was third in the league with 82 points.